My wife, K.D.’s, car battery died a few days before the new year. The engine teased her with a few sputters before it decided to give up. I gave K.D. a ride to and from work that day, and we let the car sit for the weekend. There was a part of me that hoped that the car would “rise again” after three days. Would that not be the perfect story for an Easter sermon one day? It did not happen. But as we drove the Subaru to get a new battery, I thought about resurrection.
When a car battery dies, we get a new one. That is not resurrection. That is replacement. When we say we believe in “the resurrection of the body,” we do not hope that God is going to trade us out for someone newer and better. That is not encouraging. The exact details are a mystery, but the hope of the resurrection is that something happens in our very own selves.
Most of the time we hear about resurrection when we explore the idea of life after death, but it has meaning for us every day as well. Every day we wake up with the old day behind us and a new day ahead. And in these new days, we hope that God’s love is constantly changing us for the better – to be better at loving God and loving our neighbors, whatever that might look like.
All of this deep thinking brought on by a dead car battery is actually helpful for the new year. Sometimes making resolutions exaggerates a feeling of shame. We promise to give up hollow vices or develop healthier habits, and we get lost in a sense of failure. Maybe changes are for the best, but they do not have to come at the expense of our self-worth.
The hope of the resurrection tells us how much God loves us. Us– not some better version of us, but us. And it takes off some of the pressures of perfecting the way that we live our lives. Every day we wake up to a new day, open to what God’s love can do in our lives that day.
Psalm 51 is a nice anthem for ringing in a new year. Take some of these words as you polish of your list of resolutions for 2019: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence and do not take your holy spirit from me.”
May these next 360-plus days be full of grace and peace.